Former World No. 1 Luke Donald says Tiger Woods needs to take a leap of faith if he wants to return to competitive golf.
Donald, who hosts this week’s $3.6 million British Masters at The Grove North of London, says Woods has to put the fear of failure to one side and get back inside the ropes.
“Obviously Tiger is the greatest player that’s ever played, he’s got very, very high standards and expectations,” said Donald in reaction to Woods’ decision to withdraw from this week’s Safeway Open on the PGA Tour. “I think that you have to weigh that up with that fear of almost failure or fear of anxiety of not performing well. Sometimes those don’t match up.
“If Tiger Woods is healthy like he says he is, that’s probably what he’s weighing out right now, just feeling comfortable. Again, it’s really hard to get comfortable unless you actually put yourself through it.”
Donald missed six months of the 2008 season with a wrist injury, and can relate to what Woods is going through.
“At some point he’s got to jump in. If he messes up, he’s got a good opportunity to get better the next time he plays.”
The 39-year-old Englishman had three spells as World No. 1 between 2011 and 2012, but is currently ranked 69th. He still feels he can get close to the form that took him to the top of golf’s pecking order.
“The drive is just as good as it ever was,” said Donald, who is making his fifth start this season on the European Tour. “The back end of 2014, 2015 were very tough mentally. I struggled and lost a lot of confidence. I didn’t feel very good about my game. I didn’t feel good about where I was going.
“This year I feel a little bit more re-energized. I’ve got a little bit more focus on what I want to achieve. Certainly my goal is to go back to when I was at the top of the game, getting back playing majors, giving myself chances to win. That’s definitely on the radar.
“There’s no reason with some good hard work, and a lot more consistency, I can be challenging for more tournaments. Obviously it starts with me. I have to be the best from a 100 yards in. That’s always one of my strengths, certainly a priority in my practice.”
Donald finished sixth in the 2006 WGC-American Express Championship, the only time The Grove has held a big professional tournament. So he likes the course. Whether or not he can balance the duties of tournament host and title contender remains to be seen.